Willoughby Village Cemetery History

(active, lot owners only)
-continued from Willoughby Cemetery main page

The main cemetery in Willoughby is located on Sharpe Avenue. The caretaker office and garage in the north west part of the cemetery is on Madison Avenue.

In early 1800 this section of the country was surveyed by a group of men from Connecticut. Some of them decided to make this area their home and it was named Charlton. Prior to organization as a township, it was renamed Chagrin. A town was formed and men brought their families to the new Chagrin, but there were many hardships and people died. In those early pioneer days they were buried on their farms.

It was decided that a cemetery was needed, and on Belden Hill (see Willoughby Pioneer Cemetery) one was formed. Little is known of this cemetery, but stones were remembered by older citizens as late as the early 1900s.

The original Chagrin Township minutes at the Western Reserve Historical Society have the purchasers lists for this “Chagrin Burying Ground” as well as a map of the first sections on page 34. On page 54 there is an addendum to the map, quite large, which is very similar to the current map of the Willoughby Cemetery.

The purchasers of the first lots, from Willoughby Schools, the First One Hundred Years were Sam Hunt, Erastus Briggs, B.K. Cranston, L.P. Bates, John P. Rounds, William L. Gailord, Melancton Miller, Heman Losey, Edwin Smith, Noah Carrel, Robert Carrel, John Woolcutt, David Buffington, Chauncey Cornwell, D. Gray, and Thad Howe.

Burial lots which were sold for this cemetery on and after May 15, 1829 were:

Nemiah Allen B. Grey S. V. Schram
Samuel Allen G. Gunn Harvey Sharp
L. O. Armstrong Del Haggarat Sally Sharp
Barless F. M. Hall A. Sharpe
Stephen Beebe Burbank & Haven Mrs. L. Sisson
Omar Bliss John M. Henderson W. T. Slayton
Mrs. J. Bowes S. Hildreth S. Smart
A. T. Boynton J. C. Hills Omar Smith
A. G. Briggs R. Hitt Erastus Smith
C. H. Brinkerhoff A. Houlistin Luther Snow
Isaac Brown W. A. Houlistin William F. St. John
C. K. Brown James Hughes Charles Stevens
John Bull W. W. Hughes Oliver Stevens
Mrs. Burnett & son A. R. Hurd J. W. Stevens
C. Burr James Kidman H. A. Stewart
Calusha A. King J. W. Stewart
Samuel Card F. K. Lewis John Strong
N. Clark L. M. Lilley Schram and Strong
George Clayton Peter Lilley Strong
J. & W. Clement Merril Talbott
George Clayton Robert Mitchell Robert Thomas
G. W. Clement L. A. Moody H. Turner
T. Collister J. Mulholland Elijah Ward
Harry Cook William Murry Z. Warner
Mrs. Davison Will Nash J. Watts
Mrs. Dinger P. Noble O. F. White
James Dingey Paines E. L. White
John Dodd A. B. Paten Milton White
R. N. Downing C. S. Payne A. White
C. B. Durban James Payne Harriet Wilder
Maj. Augie Egbert R. W. Perkins Charles Williams
J. S. Ellen William Phillips S. V. Wilson
Eliah G. Farr William Pike Samuel Wilson
Galusha Jefferson Pike Robert Wilson
L. H. Gates Quinn Graves and Wilson
R. Gibbons W. Richardson B. Woolsey
Lowel Goodman A. Riley H. Woolsey
Goodrich M. H. Roberts R. Woolsey
Boyce-Goodwill William Robinson Jo Wordon
T. M. Gordon Z. P. Saxton R. Yaxley
C. Granger S. Saxton John Young
Phillip Graves W. Scanlon

It was not until 1834 that Willoughby got its current name. It was long after that some of the graves from Belden Hill were moved to this new cemetery in town.

In April 1879 the citizens were asked to raise $2000.00 for a vault which was built in 1880 and 1881 by stone masons Don B. Haggett and Dwight Beckwith who worked for local contractor, George Brakeman. In May 1883 the Willoughby Independent mentions that “A well has just been put down in the village cemetery, immediately in rear of the vault.” A photo and history of the now demolished building can be found in the News-Herald May 27, 1931.

In the Independent April 7, 1905, it was announced that the cemetery trustees were planning to collect a contribution of $1.50 per lot and $3.00 for a double lot to go into a fund for maintenance and repairs for the cemetery. There is a ledger in the vault at City Hall reflecting the payment of these “contributions” from each lot owner.

Mayor James Smart questioned about a memorial gate at the new entrance on Sharp Avenue. A committee was appointed to decide upon the memorial gate and a bronze tablet, and how to raise the money for it. For $25.00 one could memorialize a friend, family member, or an organization on the plaque. The piers and wrought iron gates were ready for Memorial Day in 1930, but the bronze tablet would not be put up until 1931, with all the names on it.

Prior to this entrance, piers were donated by O.C. St. John and wrought iron gates by Arthur Boggs for memorial gates at the original cemetery entrance.

It was in 1975 and 1976 after the vault was not being used and falling apart, that they decided to take it down. The stones were used to make piers and gates at the entrance of the new Plains Road cemetery on Plains Road, now Lake Shore Boulevard.

Ninty-five proven Civil War Veterans are buried in Willoughby Cemetery, with about twenty more which could possibly have served.

The cemetery was divided into sections by LCGS for this reading project with minimal knowledge of the city’s actual section designations. A few sections correspond to the cemetery sections, but most do not. The following information and the maps provided may help to find the corresponding actual location designations of the graves. All rows were read east to west and the stones north to south, except as noted below in section CP and J.

The cemetery has designated the roads within the cemetery with tree names-Evergreen, Cherry, Butternut, Walnut and Hickory.

Section A was part of the original cemetery layout, at the corner of Hickory and Cherry. It appears as an old graveyard with a generous splashing of newer granite stones and monuments. A major sized path or roadway, noted as Path J on the official map, was filled in about two thirds of the way to Butternut. This is essentially one row running the opposite direction and a row of older lots. These readings only included up to that Path J for Section A. The rows in section A are uneven. Paths which were located every few lots were filled in over the years. It seems that some stones may have been moved to accommodate the additional burials and reduce the crowded appearance. This is only speculation, however. Below is some row description.

Row 3: Granite path-filler row.
Row 4: some of Row 4 moved to mid lot area.
Row 6: Path AA on official map.
Row 7 & 8: Very confusing layout. Look around a bit for these.
Row10: Path B with monuments to the east of the headstones.
Row 11: many stones moved to footstone area.
Row 13: add-in row of granite stones.
Row 14: 1st 1/2 of row moved to center of lots
Row 18: Potters field. Stones here could all be set back from Row 19.

Section B along the eastern fence, ends at the turn of the fence. Most of this was part of the original cemetery, and Section A.

Section C is the eastern-most area. This is an actual cemetery designation, ending with a row of baby graves, but this reading continued the section west to the entrance road.

Section CP is one of the three Potters’ Field areas for the indigent or unidentified. It is three rows along the side of section C along Butternut Road. These rows were read from north to south, and the stones were read from east to west.

The cemetery’s section D is part of LCGS’ section G. (See below.)

Section F runs from the Sharpe Ave. entrance drive west to the intersection of Butternut and Walnut, and between the southern fence and Butternut. Except for the stones along Butternut which were part of the original cemetery (our Section K) this section is almost entirely modern granite stones of a variety of colors. There are no tall monuments (over 4 ft.) in this section.

Section G. Consisting almost entirely of granite stones, this huge section runs from Walnut to the west fence, and from the garage to the south fence. The first three rows, along Walnut, were part of the original cemetery, our designation Section K. After the map became available, it was determined that our section G was actually a combination of the cemetery’s sections O and D. D is half of Row 12, which is babies, and half of row 13, ending at the water spigot, and a cross strip near the end of it running east to west, likely a path or road filled in. The bulk of the section is O.

Section H is likely the cemetery’s section H also. It is on Butternut between Hickory and Evergreen. It runs to the north only to section Path J, which is at the water spigot. This section has almost entirely granite stones.

Section J, referred to on the cemetery map as Path J, consists of one row of new stones facing north and south and a row of old stones near the water spigot. It is between sections A and H. It was noted that the older stones were not in the old readings, although they predate them considerably, and likely were placed here more recently than the 1920s. The first row in this section, at the north edge, was read from east to west; the remaining eight short rows were numbered from east to west and the stones were read from north to south.

Section K is part of the original cemetery. It appears as an old graveyard with many large monuments and sculptures. It is sprinkled with many granite stones and replacement monuments. Although this section was read in one piece, it is obvious from the placement of the stones that it was originally divided up into much smaller segments. There are paths and alleys throughout, now having been filled in. There are several rows of stones facing north and south that are the narrower paths filled in. In some cases, it is speculated, the stones next to them have been moved to reduce the crowded appearance. The rows tend to zig-zag a bit where the lots in the paths were of different sizes than the regular rows.

Section W is the cemetery designation for the section to the north and northeast of the garage, the northern-most section of the cemetery. For this reading, however, Potters’ Field 1 and the Alley strip north of Cherry has been included here. The readings begin at the eastern point of the alley, at what was the old Cemetery Street (now West Spaulding Street) entrance, moving toward the garage. Potters Field is a small section to the east of the garage. There is a small section of babies and cremains graves to the north of the garage by the fence.